ApplicationNo. 677510 filed on 03/21/1991
US Classes:414/219, Including trap chamber having horizontal axis of rotation49/40, CONVEX OR CONCAVE CLOSURE AND OPENING109/19, With deal trays109/66, Deposit type232/43.1, SEPARATE INLET AND OUTLET OPENINGS414/8, Having sealing or radiation shielding means414/146, CHARGING OR DISCHARGING MEANS ADAPTED FOR USE IN A RADIOACTIVE ENVIRONMENT414/221Including serially arranged valves in path having a vertical component (e.g., airlocks, etc.)
ExaminersPrimary: Spar, Robert J.
Assistant: Katz, Robert S.
Attorney, Agent or Firm
Foreign Patent References
International ClassB65D 017/42
DescriptionBACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to apparatus for the controlled transport of radiological swipes and smears between a controlled environment and a clean environment. The invention thereby enables analytical personnel to perform isotopic analysis of the items thereby transported.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Radiological control procedures require that all glove boxes and containments be breached by air lock methods only. In the past, designs for the transfer of radiological samples from glove boxes have included doors with piano hinges and mechanical door latches. Such systems can, undesirably, have both inner and outer doors which open simultaneously and, also, undesirably, the hinges and latches are prone to failure.
Typical of the prior art is U.S. Pat. No. 4,668,153 to Sperinck et al. which relates to an apparatus for posting materials into and out of an enclosure through a wall in the port of the enclosure. A container for the materials has a lid engageable with a door for the port and the container is supported in a cradle. An interlock bar extends between the port and a clamp assembly for the container, the bar being axially displaceable between the first and second positions. In the first position, one end of the bar arrests movement of the door release mechanism and in the second, the opposite end of the bar engages the clamp assembly for maintaining the container at the port.
It was in light of the prior art as just described that the present invention has beer conceived and is now reduced to practice.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed toward a mechanical swipe transfer assembly which can be used in conjunction with glove boxes and other sealed containments. It is used to pass small samples into or out of glove boxes without an open breach of the containment, and includes a rotational cylinder inside a fixed cylinder, the inside cylinder being rotatable through an arc of approximately 240 relative to the outer cylinder. An offset of 120 degrees from end to end allows only one port to be opened at a time. The assembly is made of stainless steel or aluminum and clear acrylic plastic to enable visual observation. The assembly allows transfer of swipes and smears from radiological and other specially controlled environments.
The invention is of simplified construction using readily available materials including aluminum or stainless steel and acrylic plastic. It can be readily mounted on the barrier between a clean environment and a controlled environment and can be easily used. A unit embodying the invention is compact, yet sufficiently large to accommodate items for transfer such as radiological samples.
Other and further features, advantages, and benefits of the invention will become apparent in the following description taken in conjunction with the following drawings. It is to be understood that the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory but are not to be restrictive of the invention. The accompanying drawings which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this invention, illustrate one of the embodiments of the invention, and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention in general terms. Like numerals refer to like parts throughout the disclosure.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view, exploded, certain parts being cut away and shown in section, illustrating a transfer assembly embodying the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a transfer assembly of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a cross section view taken generally along line 3--3 in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an end elevation view of a transfer assembly illustrated in FIG. 2, certain parts being cut away for clarity;
FIG. 5 is a detail cross section view of parts illustrated in FIG. 3; and
FIGS. 6A, 6B, and 6C are diagrammatic views, in section, similar to FIG. 3, illustrating, respectively, three successive positions of the transfer assembly of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Turn now to the drawings and, initially, FIG. 1 which illustrates transfer apparatus 20 of the invention which serves to transfer articles between a clean environment 22 and a controlled or contained environment 24 while maintaining the integrity of the clean environment. A barrier 26 may be a wall with a suitably sized and shaped opening 28 through which radiological articles such as swipes and smears may be transferred.
For purposes of the invention, a flange member 30 includes an annular flange plate 32 with spaced holes 34 therein for reception of suitable fasteners 36 for attachment of the assembly to be described to the barrier 26. Annular grooves 38 are provided in a face of the flange plate 32 proximate the barrier 26 for fitting reception of suitably sized O-rings 40 as one means of sealing environment 22 from environment 44. An annular mounting collar 42 is integral with and extends away from the annular flange 32.
With continued reference to FIG. 1, the transfer apparatus 20 includes outer and inner cylinders 44 and 46, respectively, which are of a unique design which enable the transfer of articles between environments 22 and 24 without deleteriously affecting the former. The outer cylinder includes an outer sleeve 48 which extends between first and second retainer caps 50 and 52, respectively. The retainer caps are suitably attached to opposed end surfaces 54 of the outer sleeve 48 as by means of fasteners 56. The outer sleeve 48 has a pair of circumferentially aligned openings 58, 60 at longitudinally spaced locations, each subtending an arc of approximately 100°. When the outer cylinder 44 is in its fully mounted position, the opening 58 will lie in the clean environment 22 while the opening 60 will lie in the controlled or contained environment 24. A pair of spaced, parallel, annular grooves 62 are formed in the outer surface of the outer sleeve 48 to receive mating O-rings 64 which in turn engage the inner surface of the annular collar 42 as particularly well seen in FIG. 3. It will be appreciated that the dimensions of the flange member 30 and of the outer cylinder 44 are chosen such that there is a sealing fit achieved by reason of the O-rings 64.
The inner cylinder 46 includes an inner sleeve 66 which extends between first and second end caps 68, 70, respectively. The end caps 68, 70 are suitably attached to the inner sleeve 66 as by glue. The inner sleeve is further formed with first and second ports 72, 74 in its outer peripheral surface and a pair of spaced, parallel, annular grooves 76 are also formed in the outer surface of the inner sleeve 66 to fittingly receive, respectively, O-rings 78. Operating handles 80, 82 are integral with and extend outwardly from their associated ends caps 68, 70, respectively. When the inner cylinder 46 is fully received within the outer cylinder 44, the handles 80, 82, extend through associated cut outs 84, 86 fashioned in the retainer caps 50, 52, respectively.
It will also be appreciated that the outer diameter of the inner sleeve 66 is only slightly smaller than the inner diameter of the outer sleeve 48 to assure a fitting and, therefore, sealing relationship between the O-rings 78 and the inner surface of the outer sleeve 48.
An incomplete annular groove 88 is formed in the surface of the end cap 68 which faces the retainer cap 50. The groove 88 extends through an arc of approximately 240° between detented ends 90 and 92 and has an intermediate detent 94 as well (FIG. 4).
A resilient plug 96 is fittingly received in a bore 98 provided in and extending through the retainer cap 50. A follower member 100 integral with and extends from the resilient plug 96 so as to be slidably engaged with the annular groove 88. By reason of its radial positioning on the retainer cap 50, the follower member 100 is biased into engagement with the innermost surface of the annular groove 88. Therefore, when the inner cylinder 46 is appropriately positioned relative to the outer cylinder 44, the follower member 100 can engage one of the three detents 90, 92, and 94. The ports 92 and 94 are positioned to be generally coextensive with their associated openings 58, 60, but not simultaneously. Indeed, an offset of at least 100° between a center of the port 72 from that of the port 74 assures that only one port will be opened at a time. The position of the annular groove 88 on the end cap 68 assures this desired result.
The operation of the invention will now be explained with primary attention to FIGS. 6A, 6B, and 6C. As seen initially in FIG. 6A, the operating handle 80 has been employed to move the inner cylinder 46 to an extreme position at which the follower member 100 is biased into engagement with the detent 92 of the annular groove 88. In this position, the port 72 is coextensive with the opening 58 of the outer cylinder 44. This enables placement of an article 102 to be transferred, such as a radiological swipe or smear, to be placed into the interior of the inner cylinder 46. Thereupon, the operating handle 80 is used to rotate the inner cylinder until the follower member 100 engages the intermediate detent 94 at which point the assembly assumes the position illustrated in FIG. 6B. At this point, the interior of the inner cylinder 46 is out of communication with either the clean environment 22 or the controlled environment 24.
With continued rotation of the inner cylinder by means of the operating handle 80, the inner cylinder 46 is rotated until the follower member 100 engages the detent 90. At this point, as seen in FIG. 6C, the port 74 of the inner cylinder is coextensive with the opening 60 of the outer cylinder thereby enabling removal of the article 102 from the interior of the inner cylinder.
Should replacement of the transfer apparatus 20 ever become necessary, the inner and outer cylinders can be pushed through the flange member 30 into the controlled environment 24 for disposal as contaminated equipment and replaced with a new unit.
While a preferred embodiment of the invention has been disclosed in detail, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that various other modifications may be made to the illustrated embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention as described in the specification and defined in the appended claims.
Field of SearchHaving sealing or radiation shielding means
CHARGING OR DISCHARGING MEANS ADAPTED FOR USE IN A RADIOACTIVE ENVIRONMENT
APPARATUS FOR MOVING MATERIAL BETWEEN ZONES HAVING DIFFERENT PRESSURES AND INHIBITING CHANGE IN PRESSURE GRADIENT THEREBETWEEN
Including trap chamber having horizontal axis of rotation
With means for changing pressure in trap chamber
Including serially arranged valves in path having a vertical component (e.g., airlocks, etc.)
With container opening means
Having movable segregating chamber (i.e., trap chamber)
Rotary conveyer-type trap chamber
Rotary and/or pivoted only
CONVEX OR CONCAVE CLOSURE AND OPENING
SEQUENTIAL CLOSURES FOR PASSAGEWAY
With deal trays
INCIDENTALLY MOVABLE SAFE OR COMPARTMENT
With dumping mechanism
Revolving for interior access
SEPARATE INLET AND OUTLET OPENINGS
With means for moving the deposited matter within the receptacle
CLOSURES AND CHUTES